Ten Lessons from My First Year of Collecting Vinyl Records

Artemis Sere Vinyl Album Collection

In 2022 I began collecting vinyl albums. It has since become an obsession, and I've purchased over 200 records in the last year from a variety of sources - Discogs, Amazon, Merchbar, Revolver, and Poshmark, to name a few.

My first year of collecting records had highs and lows, wows and learnings. I spent way too much money, but thoroughly enjoyed my music journey. I've been greatly influenced by the meticulous art poured into the vinyl experience. The price of vinyl collecting is high these days, but the market is vast and wide. Most of the albums you want are available somewhere - for a price, depending on quality and location and legitimacy of vendor.

If I had this list of learnings before I started collecting records last year, I think I would have had an easier time finding what I wanted, and understanding what was worth the stress, risk, and cost. I probably would've slowed down my purchasing roll and kept my collection addiction in check.

Oh, you weren't aware that I have a music addiction? Well, check out my Top20 albums that I publish every year. These lists come from listening to a broad amount of music every year. I know we all do; I do my best to catalog what I like and report about it. I come back to these lists often to remind myself of what I really enjoyed that year, and to revise as I find new music.

My collecting started with CDs - a collection that grew far too cumbersome in time. I transferred that collection to digital and now have close to 300 GB worth of digital music. Digital keeps me company when I'm out and about, but there's something truly magic about the vinyl record experience.

There's a rush to opening a brand new vinyl album, spinning it for the first time, and hearing it loudly and proudly crackle across my speakers. There's a vibe to it I don't get while listening to digital or CD. The music seems more alive, awake, and present - imperfect with its static and needlepoint access, but seemingly more complete and whole.

I try to purchase every album in my annual Top 20 now. It's important to me to own the 20 albums every year that I would consider my favorite of that time, rather than having a mass of random vinyl that may end up in the trash heap.

Speaking of heap, I inherited my parent's vinyl collection this year. Hundreds of worn albums from 1950-1980. A wide variety of styles from Led Zeppelin to The Carpenters to Ray Charles. The experience of spinning vinyl has come a long way in 80 years, and it's nostalgic to trek back in time with some of the records of their collection.

Some records will be added to my collection. Some will be surrendered to secondhand stores. Some may eventually end up in that dreaded heap.

I'll do my best to take good care of the treasures that I'm collecting, just as I'm maintaining the trove of art that I've amassed. I hope these suggestions help you maintain your collection. Color me curator.

Here are my lessons from the last year of collecting vinyl records. This isn't a sales blog, but it will have some external vendor links and recommendations that may help your vinyl collection journey. 

Happy #vinylcollecting! 


1. Take Care of your Investments

Spend the extra money for quality vinyl maintenance tools and products - sleeve covers, vinyl baths, anti-static cloths, and fresh needles for your player. All of the accessories help you maintain a quality vinyl album experience - for you as a collector and for the next purchaser of your album (should there be one).

2. Handle With Care

I've learned that vinyls appreciate in time due to supply and demand. Supply for certain vinyl records is very low, so prices can be alarming for a single collectors record. With that in mind, you must take care of your purchases. They scratch and wear easily. Not only the vinyls, but the covers. I will write a separate blog on my handling recommendations, but observe careful handling of all records and covers, even using gloves if possible and cleaning your record before and after every use.

3. Invest in a Quality Record Player

I started with the brand Victrola, but switched over to Angels Horn. I love the sound and style of the player. I'm still figuring out to rip to digital. A work in progress. See shots of the players in the photo album below.

4. Use Discogs to Track your Vinyl Inventory

Discogs is a website and app that real vinyl collectors use. It's comparable to IMDB for music releases - part commerce site, part library of music, release, and artist details. It has global reach and a vault of accurate details about releases. It has technology built in for connection with a music community. It is the anchor site for my collection and tracks the value of my collection to the dollar. While I use it mostly for vinyl, it also tracks various music formats (digital and CD) and operates perfectly as a cross-format inventory system for your music. While there are many applications to help you manage your inventory and provide commerce to help you purchase what you're looking for, Discogs pulls it all together nicely. And creates Community around it. Friend up with artemissere on Discogs to see what I'm collecting and watching.

5. Order from Trusted Vendors

If you find an offer on the internet for a vinyl record you're hunting for, or see an offer too good to be true pop up through social (programmatic advertising is very clever these days), validate it with sources like Discogs or Amazon.  And..

6. Beware the Backorder

Sites like Merchbar will take your coin for a Pre-Order of a vinyl release -- without having actual access to stock of it and with a delivery date that is completely fluid. Yes, they'll give you a delivery date, but that will move based on source availability. I ordered Poe's album "Haunted" on Merchbar in October 2022 and was still waiting for delivery of it in October 2023. This month, Tower Records made it available; I quickly canceled my order with Merchbar and grabbed it from Tower. I'll never trust Merchbar for a "Pre-order" again.

7. Research the Vinyl Version you're Purchasing/Collecting

Albums are pressed by various merchandisers and labels. I purchased my first copy of the The Haunted's "The Dead Eye" on Discogs. When I received the album I was surprised that it lacked some album art that was on the CD. So, I ordered another copy from Amazon, and that copy had images and layout like the original CD. For some reason, the Backbite label reformatted some of the album art, dropping some of the great details of the original CD, and pressed as their own version. On Discogs, there are many versions of each vinyl album, and the experience can vary by country, by year, and by label. Know what you're purchasing before you do. I now have two slightly different versions of the same album.

8. Stick with In-country or Local Purchases (if you can help it)

Ordering a collector's vinyl record from another country can be expensive for shipping and handling, and the experience can involve questionable packaging. The process of shipping can also cause damage to the shipping container, which can damage the external cover. Most international vendors will refund your money if you have a strong enough case, but if it's the only copy they have, you end up with a compromised version and/or a requirement to ship it back. Additionally, sellers offer their products on multiple sites - not a big deal for in-country purchases, but seriously annoying if it's an out of country purchase with a vendor whose stock ran out and has to offer you a refund. A recent purchase with a UK seller who had a listing in Discogs for a vintage WASP record ended up refunded after 5 days because their stock was sold on another site. I had to contact the seller myself after not hearing from them for close to a week post-purchase. This "selling product somewhere else" detail was in their listing, but you don't know if the album is available until you don't hear from the seller for 5 days. Given that international shipments take much longer than domestic, it's frustrating to wait 5 days to know whether or not you actually got what you paid for.

9. Return Damaged or Incorrect Product

Probably a no-brainer, but don't eat your vendor's error. Somehow, Amazon managed to send me two incorrect vinyls in packages marked as the product that I ordered. Somewhere on the fulfillment belt, someone dropped the wrong record into the package that was clearly labeled for my order. Given the automation around Amazon fulfillment processes, it's amazing this could happen, but it does, because humans are imperfect and make mistakes.

10. Invest in the Exclusives

Some of the coolest experiences I've had in the last year involve the artistic detail of vinyl albums. I grew up in the 80s, so I remember when new cassette tapes were the rage. And then collector CDs with boxed sets and beautiful booklets. But the current wave with music on vinyl is creating some of the best artistic experiences of the last decade. In 2022, the vinyl album art of Spiritbox's "Eternal Blue" and Machine Head's "Of Kingdom and Crown" blew me away. This year, I've been blown away by Code Orange's "The Above" and Sleep Token's "Take Me Back to Eden". But watch your budget - not every vinyl is urgent and worth it.

Extra Credit

1. Beware of poor product runs. I purchased Chimaira's picture disc album "The Infection" over Discogs this year from a company. Turns out that the insert card melted to the front side of the disc from poor packaging and storage over the last decade. One side of the disc was unplayable. I decided to keep the album to support the small business vendor on Discogs. I ordered another two copies from sellers on Amazon and discovered similar results.

2. Join the Vinyl Collector Community! I have met some amazing people through sharing my vinyl journey on Facebook and Instagram, including some super friends like @doomedteacher. A school teacher from Florida, he has constantly surprised me with his album collection and likes. He's even become a pen pal of mine. I recommended you give him a follow, and take a look at all of the rest of the great music being shared on the #vinylcollector hashtag.

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Music Albums of 2022

Artemis Sere's Best Albums of 2022 - Zeal & Ardor

This list is not genre or market specific. This list reflects the diversity of my interests. This list is not based on listening to any radio, podcasts, or influencer pundits. My appreciation for music is relatively broad, but you'll find a heavier edge to recent lists - reflective of the seasons of my life.

This list is my 12th attempt to catalog, track, and recommend the best music of the previous year.  If you're interested in what I've ranked in previous years, check out this page where all years are available.

This year was the most difficult year of compiling this list since I started. Not because I lacked entries to this list, but because 2022 featured more great music than I have space for. However, I did cut the list off at 20, and you can see my "Honorable Mentions" at the end of this blog.

Two themes dominated my 2022: my first year as a vinyl collector, and exploration into new artists. I have purchased vinyls for most of the albums on this list (for albums that have vinyls available) and am greatly impressed by the art and artistry that is put into the format. With respect to the newly discovered artists, I gave them priority in this list over many age-old, popular bands that put out albums this year (eg. Slipknot, Rammstein, Ghost). I find the new sounds exhilarating and fresh, and hope you do too.

Please spread the word and share this guidance with your network, and pay forward these suggestions of high quality, relatively underrated music and musicians. 

Check out my YouTube playlist featuring clips from every album, linked at the end of this list. 

And if you're feeling bold, drop a comment on this blog and let me know what you think. What's on your list of favorite albums for 2022?

I appreciate your interest in my Art and music opinion. Enjoy!

NOTE: I reserve the right to revise this list as necessary. I know I've probably missed some great albums in 2022, and will be sure to update this list to accommodate those next year - as I have done and will do with lists from previous years. Check back for updates!



What Normal Was

I was a big fan of Howerdel's Ashes Divide project, and you can hear the echoes of that great album in the lines and tones of "What Normal Was". 



Author & Punisher is a one-man, industrial doom metal machine that cranks out atmospheric and apocalyptic jams. The album could work as an Industrial B-side for Tool, with its experimental sound, gritty mechanics and darkly dreamed soundscape. The album features Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor (both from Tool) and Perturbator. Musician Tristan Shone created his own "dub" and "drone" instruments, and the album reflects the best of Godflesh and Tool mixed with NIN.


Dis Morta

I've been listening to Toxik since I was in High School, and while I don't have as much appreciation for speed metal as I once did, this is a great album by the venerable metalheads. The title track reminds of "World Circus" while adding a mature vibe and doom power.  Josh Christian and band can still scream and slay.


False Light

White Ward is always a sonic adventure. Doom/black metal with saxophones and other compelling instruments, I've been a fan of this talented band out of Ukraine since discovering their "Futility Report" album. As I've grown older, I tend to gravitate toward vocals that are a bit more harmonic and less guttural, but White Ward represents the pain of their homeland perfectly with "False Light". Even though this album didn't rank high on my list, I deeply appreciate it in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the amazing feat this band had to go through just to finish and release this album. In the end, I'm drawn to the balance of glorious guitars and saxophone, a sonic dance that creates a serious sense of gloom. The cover and vinyl insert contain shots from Ukraine, and it breaks my heart to consider what this strong people are enduring at the hands of Russia. #IStandWithUkraine



Hailing from Scotland, Bleed From Within is a metalcore band that sounds like a European companion to Parkway Drive with excellent vocals and melodies, superb riffs and endless power. "Shrine" is a great album and would rank higher on my list in a year that didn't feature so many great entries.


Darker Still

Their last album, "Reverence", was my #2 album of 2018, beaten out by an overwhelmingly awesome Rabbit Junk album. In 2022, the situation is pretty much the same, only both bands failed to crack my Top 10. Every artist is judged on his/her last effort, and if "Darker Still" is compared to "Reverence", I see very little difference in sound, tempo and content from the last album. Consistency is certainly a good thing, but "Darker Still" doesn't sound fresh - but it does sound good enough to be in my Top 20, just not different enough to stand out.



This two-piece from Los Angeles almost stole the show from Night Club when I saw them at First Avenue's Entry earlier this year. I had no clue who they were at the time, but "EAT IT UP, SPIT IT OUT" became one of my most played albums of 2022, with "Little Godz" in my regular rotation. Fronted by the multi-talented Kat Leon, this band may not be on many radars right now, but is one you should watch out for. Ultimately, sounds and looks similar to K. Flay with a bit of a heavier edge and affinity for the camera.



Lamb of God channels angry like no other. Metalcore with solid vocals and guitars that slay, Lamb of God never ceases to impress. "Omens" is a great addition to the Lamb of God catalog, but like Parkway Drive, doesn't differentiate well. Across the album, I hear the echoes of "Sacrament" - and as I said with Parkway Drive, consistency isn't a bad thing. "Omens" grinds and slams well, and if you're looking for a soundtrack to your aggression, look no further.


Fever Dream

 And now for a change of pace. Sometimes I need those. We all do. My list this year is dotted with escapes from the loud cacophony of our brutal lives. Maybe it's me getting older. Maybe it's needing alternate influences to counter my high blood pressure. This band is a new-ish discovery and I expect that I will spend more time listening to them for chill and inspiration. Their dreamy approach is a welcome respite to the hustle and bang of our brutal world. They're considered indie "dream-pop" and their style and swing resonates well with the need for less speed.


Apocalypse for Beginners

I've been a fan of Rabbit Junk for fifteen years now. I've seen them evolve from a relatively-unkonwn rough-and-tumble hardclash band to a well-polished electronic outfit with a sizeable following. JP Anderson and Sum Grrrl continue to anchor their style and sound, with collaborators like Amelia Arsenic and Cyanotic. Their newest release has the grit and edge that I expect from Rabbit Junk, only it feels a bit too overproduced. I long for the rugged days of "Orange Laces" and "Iso Vs. Life", where their album covers were less perfect and their sound lacked the prettiness it exudes now. That may sound like a criticism, but it's not - Rabbit Junk is one of the best electronic acts on the market right now that more people need to know about. Compared to my opinion on their last album "Meditations on Mortality: Rabbit Junk Will Die", "Apocalypse" is a solid effort and worthy of much praise, but doesn't stack up against some of their best works.


Leather Terror

A newcomer to my orbit, Carpenter Brut has been a breath of fresh air. One of a couple of bands on my list that built their records off of collaborations with other artists, Brut is a one-man band from France, considered darksynth or dark electronics, mixing horror themes and sounds to create a horror atmosphere. According to Wikipedia, "(Leather Terror) is a continuation of the Leather Teeth trilogy and involves a story of "a character who wants to take revenge on the cheerleader who’s been making fun of him 'serial killer style'." The album features collaborations with Greg from The Dillinger Escape Plan, Gunship, among others.



It's hard not to love these two lifelong friends from England that united to form a powerful urban punk duo. Gorgeously diverse and unapologetically sarcastic, angry and edgy. "Supernova" is an endless jam of  great vocals, superb content, and punky guitars. From "Cleopatra" to "Antagonist", their attitude, presence and power is undeniable. They truly are super in many ways and are one of my favorite finds of 2022.


Disco4: Part II

Another one of my favorite finds of 2022 was the band Health. For a band whose name was derived intentionally as an "everyday word", they are strikingly unique with a mesmerizing sound and brilliant balance of electronics and guitars. Listening to the amazingness of "Disco4: Part II" drove me to explore their catalog further, and appreciate the immense greatness that they've produced even before this album. Featuring collaborations with NIN, Poppy, Lamb of God, The Neighbourhood, and Perturbator, "Part II" is a melancholic and hypnotic ride, often brilliant and often exquisite.


True Power

This metalcore act from Michigan can crank out some serious power. Their concept isn't original - heavy tunes with two vocalists, one clean and one growly, much like Linkin Park once perfected. More electronic and diverse than Parkway Drive, and with a sound similar to Bad Omens, I Prevail is thunderous and huge, while slinging axes and blasting bad ass beats. "Body Bag" will tell you all you need to know about them, and I Prevail is able to continue that attitude for one truly powerful, boomtastic album. 

"All hail the king of nothing."


Hollow The Numbers + Kill the Messenger EP

Their self-titled album was one of my favorites of 2016, and this album was one of my favorite of 2022. The creative evolution of Tobey Torres Doran (Snake River Conspiracy) and Mitch Doran (Snake River Conspiracy, Queensryche  "Mindcrime 2") has been inspiring and amazing to watch, and this album is an adventurous soundscape of mystery and industrial, 80s gothy style. As a whole, the vocal interplay between Tobey and Mitch is fun, highlighting the high level of talent this band possesses across the board. Drums by Lynn Farmer from Meat Beat Manifesto round out their amazing sound. Both the new album and previous EP are layered with superb guitars and soulful vocals, mixed with vocal samples and great electronic atmosphere (and even features Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers). "Graveyard Tapes" is an exquisite and hypnotic exploration into the spooky minds of the band, while "Kill the Messenger" was one of my most listened to songs of 2022. Most of all, it is has been awesome to learn Tobey's story from the Snake River Conspiracy era and to witness her persistence, resilience and evolution with Mojave Phone Booth. From what I understand, the invigoration could even lead to new Snake River Conspiracy work. This is a band that deserves serious recognition for overcoming obstacles and producing some of the greatest work in their careers.


Chasing Ghosts

Speaking of yesteryear bands returning to produce some of the best work, Stabbing Westward's "Chasing Ghosts" is a phenomenal and confident album that was one of my favorite vinyls of 2022. This album isn't the strongest in my top ten musically, but from cover to concept, it is macabre and amazing. The cover and other album art is genius and darkly wonderful. Musically, it is great to hear the sound of Stabbing Westward again. I was a fan of Hall's side project, The Dreaming, but this album is where he belongs. Stabbing Westward has been a fave since 1996's "Wither Blister Burn & Peel", so it's difficult to measure "Chasing Ghosts" across their great releases, but it certainly stood out as one of my favorites of 2022.


Of Kingdom and Crown

I didn't intentionally group "Kingdom"-related concept albums next to each other. However, two of my favorite albums of have strong themes around Kings and kingdoms (incidentally, even I Prevail has a great song called "Long Live the King"), with "Of Kingdom and Crown" revolving around two characters named Ares and Eros that go through troubles. "No Gods, No Masters" will forever be one of my favorite Machine Head songs, while the rest of the album is filled with power and dark glory. Extra props for superbly macabre album art and an exquisite vinyl package and presentation. Rob Flynn's voice shows no signs of fading, and Machine Head continues to be one of the most relentless and inventive bands in metal today. 


Pawns & Kings

Alter Bridge has been a favorite since the dissolution of Creed. Over the years, they've had albums that have dotted these lists, but "Pawns & Kings" has ranked the highest of them all so far. The songwriting on "Pawns & Kings" is amazingly tight and the storytelling on the album is spectacular. Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti are an amazing duo, complementing each other's talent. It helps that they - combined with Phillips and Marshall, also from Creed - are four of the best musicians in rock right now. Songs like "This Is War", "Holiday", "Sliver Tongue", "Fable of the Silent Son",  "Season of Promise", and "Pawns & Kings" hint of a larger story of class warfare,  almost medieval in tone. Many props to Mark's brother Dan for exceptional album art. Look forward to seeing this band in February with Red.


The Death of Peace of Mind

"The Death of Peace of Mind" was my most listened to album of 2022, and their live show was one of my favorite this year (despite serious issues with the venue). They are an amazingly eclectic and polished electro-rock band that features the perfect mix of vocals and creative vision.  Each of the videos that they've released are atmospheric and amazing, showcasing endless range of this talented band.

Favorites "The Grey", "The Death of Peace of Mind", "Like a Villain", and "Artificial Suicide" were on constant rotation on my record player, and the electronics pop with life and energy.

The album doesn't have a weak spot, doesn't have a song that I would point to as a flaw or fail. It is an soulful, raw, edgy and beautiful ride from start to finish, punctuated by what is probably my favorite song of 2022, "The Death of Peace of Mind", an epic of romantic and gloomy proportions with a corresponding video that is wonderfully haunting and gorgeous cinema.



To be honest, it was difficult for me to choose between Bad Omen's wonderful new album and this one. I listened to the Bad Omens album more. I saw both bands live. I loved the live sound of both shows. Ultimately, it comes down to this: the influence of the past on their present. Bad Omens show was tightly performed and very entertaining, but too many songs were too Biblically preachy, a reflection on popular work from previous albums. 

Zeal & Ardor's set of tunes that supported the great songs like "Run", "Golden Liar", and "Gotterdammerung", were black metal influenced slave tunes, like "Don't You Dare", "Row Row", and "Gravedigger's Chant". I've read that Bad Omens wishes that their recent release is what the public knows them best by, as if the success of this album reflects who they are, not who they were.

I've never heard Manuel Gagneux Iament about his content and the amazing voice he has channeled out of black history and reality. There's a hardcore honesty with every Zeal & Ardor song, and as an atheist and humanist, I probably appreciate that more highly than most.

I stand by Zeal & Ardor's self-titled as my favorite for 2022, and am excited to have been introduced to them. From "Stranger Fruit" to "Wake of the Nation" to their self-title, Zeal & Ardor have an awesome trajectory and creative fire.  

2022 Honorable Mentions

I had a long list of albums to choose from for my 2022 list. Here are ones that were considered, but not chosen for the top 20. They may make it there someday. 

Conjure One - Innovation Zero
Sabaton – The War To End All Wars
Ghost – Impera
Rammstein – Zeit
Amorphis – Halo
Meshuggah – Immutable
Anthrax - XL
Megadeth - The Sick, The Dying ....and the Dead!
Disturbed - Divisive

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Albums of 2022
YouTube Playlist

Other Annual Best Album Blogs

2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 
2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 
2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021

Artemis Sere’s Twenty Best Music Albums of 2021

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Albums of 2021

This list is not genre or market specific. This list reflects the diversity of my interests. This list is not based on listening to any radio, podcasts, or influencer pundits. My appreciation for music is relatively broad, but you'll find a heavier edge to recent lists - reflective of the seasons of my life.

This list is my 11th attempt to catalog, track, and recommend the best music of the previous year.  If you're interested in what I've ranked in previous years, check out this page where all years are available.

This year features the sweet return of trip-hop greats Sneaker Pimps and Morcheeba. It also includes two artists that inspire me greatly and put out two albums with different projects in the same year. Releasing one record is hard enough - releasing two awesome and individual albums in the same year is truly inspiring. This list features the return of some legends and greats and highlights some brand new discoveries.

Please spread the word and share this guidance with your network, and pay forward these suggestions of high quality, relatively underrated music and musicians. 

Check out my YouTube playlist featuring clips from every album, linked at the end of this list. 

And if you're feeling bold, drop a comment on this blog and let me know what you think. What's on your list of favorite albums for 2021?

I appreciate your interest in my Art and music opinion. Enjoy!

NOTE: I reserve the right to revise this list as necessary. I know I've probably missed some great albums in 2021, and will be sure to update this list to accommodate those next year - as I have done and will do with lists from previous years. Check back for updates!


12/28/21 Edit : Swapped Pop Evil - "Versatile" (6) with Spiritbox - "Eternal Blue" (13). I misjudged how good the new Spiritbox album is, and have updated my list accordingly.


Hushed & Grim

I have a feeling that future spins of this album will drop it closer down my list. Mastodon has great vocals, great guitars, great flows, but for some reason, I'm not completely inspired by their sound. Still, their talent and production are undeniable. They're one heavy, hairy band, not much hushed nor terribly grim. But powerful and great.


Live from the Apocalypse

I'm not usually drawn to live albums, but this album has the live feel without the live sound. Well produced and vibrant variations of their original tunes, this is a great album by long-time favorites Lacuna Coil. Cristina Scabbia is always a treat to listen to, and her voice is aging very well. I only wish this live album covered some of their earlier works, such as tunes off of "Unleashed Memories".


In the Court of the Dragon

I have a soft spot for all things Matt Heafy. Trivium is an awesomely tight and progressive band. I love the sound and fantasy concepts woven throughout this album. In time, I feel like this will end up being my favorite Trivium album, but in a year dotted with other amazing albums, this one will be easily forgot by most.


Hell Unleashed

This is one diabolical and brutally fast album, a throwback to my early years of metalheadedness and my exploration of dark metal bands like Dark Angel, Helstar and Obituary. 


Aggression Continuum

Fear Factory may be a shadow of the beast they were in the 2000s, but this album proves they can still punch with style and consistency. Evidently, Burton C. Bell left the band after this album, so this will most likely be the last time they make this list. 


Blackest Blue

Every Morcheeba album over the last 15 years has made this list. Some albums have soared higher than others, but "Sounds of Blue" reconfirms why this talented band continues to produce some of my favorite music. They're still ethereal, still mesmerizing, still part of the Sea in me. As Sneaker Pimps have proven, trip-hop isn't necessarily dead; it has just matured.


Servant of the Mind

There are many of my American friends that don't get my appreciation of Volbeat. Having grown up in Europe, I get the beer-hall style sound and harmony. I get some of Volbeat's barfy enthusiasm that comes through in their music. I get their sing-songy sensibilities. I get it. They're still 14th on the list because they can lay down an unforgettable groove and story with rage and fire.



Like Blacktop Mojo, these guys are mainline rockers with sounds straight out of the 90s. From "Let the Chaos Reign" to "Survivor" to "Breathe Again" to "Fire Inside", their rock diversity and ability to inspire are evident. They're another band that have been flying under the main wire for a long time, even though they've been around for two decades. "Versatile" finally displays their dynamic power and punch perfectly. 


The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy

There was once a time that Rob Zombie inspired me endlessly. Growing up with White Zombie, his unique disco-metal style and voice stood out amongst a sea of sleepy rockers and headbangers. Turns out that I haven't liked everything that Rob Zombie does - I haven't really liked much of his Rob Zombie directorial work. I haven't loved a Rob Zombie album since "Educated Horses". And this one isn't perfect. There aren't standout hits like "Blood, Milk & Sky" or "More Human than Human" on this album. But the Conspiracy cranks out consistently entertaining horrorfunk and hellspaces.


IAMX "Machinate" + 
Sneaker Pimps "Squaring the Circle"

The first of two artists in my list that had pushed out awesome works in 2021, Chris Corner shines with both his avant-garde project IAMX and his old-school return to trip-hop with Sneaker Pimps. If you've followed my music blogs for any length of time, you know my love and admiration of the art and artist that is IAMX. While Sneaker Pimps' new album has touching and beautiful music, it sounds more like a new IAMX album than it does an old-school Sneaker Pimps album (either pre- or post-Kelli Ali). With every output, Chris Corner pushes the envelope of activism and I appreciate how he's able to carry a consistent voice and approach, regardless of label he publishes under.


Blood in the Water

Did you know that the band Flotsam & Jetsam is 40 years old this year? They started making music when I was 8. I didn't full start appreciating them until I was 15. At 48, I'm happy to report that their 15th album is some of the best work of their catalog. While not the same revelation that previous album "End of Chaos" was, "Blood in the Water" shows they're still rockers to be reckoned with, even if they're old enough to be your Grandad.


Thanks for Coming

The multitalented Michael C. Hall ("Dexter") fronts this fantastic act. With a very Bowie-esque sound and 80s electronica vibe, Princess is a touching and charming experience. Their cover of Phantogram's "Cruel World" is spectacular, like Dexter's Dark Passenger given resonant voice.


Blacktop Mojo

"Wicked Woman" crept into my playlist this year and became one in my regular rotation. A callback to pure rock n' roll with themes of sacrifice and loss with tight production and classic heavy metal sound. Full on fun and rock talent.


The Bitter Truth

It's always a pleasure to showcase the work of Amy Lee. I've been an Evanescence fan since their earliest days. While their popularity has waxed and waned throughout the years, their lack of production and talent hasn't. We've faced a few years of bitter truths now that have forced much reflection. Lee said this about the album:  "A lot of this album is about facing the truth, facing the bitter truths of our world and of my life and of heart. Whatever the cost of that might be on the inside. So then we can start talking about climbing out. Then we can start talking about getting to a better place. You can't appreciate the beauty of life, you can't fully experience all the good moments in life if you don't also fully experience the challenging ones, the tough ones, the painful ones."


Eternal Blue

I found this album consistent on many top album lists of the year and thought I'd give it a try. I'm sure thankful I did, because this is one adventurous and unexpectedly spectacular album. The lead singer and guitarist were formerly in a band named "iwrestledabearonce" (put in quotes because it looks strange without them). I wasn't a fan of that band, but they've sure built something special with Spiritbox.



Shoutout to friend Dennis Curran from the band Semtex for turning me on to this brutal and beautiful album. Reminded me of the first time that I listened to "Blackwater Park" with the ominous and horror-oriented tones. This is my first encounter with Whitechapel and am now determined to dig in further, tug at the roots of this bloody family.



 The Dead Channel Trilogy in total is a dreamy mix of rock, dubstep, electronics, guitars, piano, and other adventures across a sonic landscape that stretches three albums with unique hues and moods to each. "Obsidian" is the final work of Stahli's Dead Channel Trilogy (("Quartz"(2020), "Copper"(2020), "Obsidian"(2021)) and is the darkest, most contemplative of the three. 


Tom Morello & The Bloody Beetroots - "The Catastrophists EP" +
"The Atlas Underground Fire"

Tom Morello has created a great concept of teaming with other artists to create tunes for his Atlas Underground albums. The first Atlas Underground album was my #4 album of 2018. This time around I'm honoring Tom Morello not just for his work with Atlas Fire, but also his EP with the Bloody Beetroots, which also includes team-ups with other amazing musicians and artists and serves as a brilliant extension of his already-inspiring Underground Fire. Tom Morello is more than just the guy from Rage Against the Machine and Prophets of Rage; he is a master of music.